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13 May 2013 @ 08:24 pm
Picoreview: Emma (Kate Beckinsale version)  

Picoreview: Emma (Kate Beckinsale tv movie version, 1997): flawed, but not quite in the right ways.

I just re-read EMMA last year, so the narrative is fairly fresh in my mind. The real problem with Kate Beckinsale’s Emma is that with one painful exception, Emma doesn’t come across as nearly as awful as she is in the book. Too much of her meddling and the emotional turmoil thereof is left off the screen for brevity’s sake, so I was left feeling she was more…misguided, rather than downright dreadful, which she honestly is in the book.

Really, the only reason the book is bearable is that Emma is *so* awful but *so* well realized that it’s impossible to not recognize what a tremendously talented writer Jane Austen was. Everybody knows somebody like Emma (not necessarily in the matchmaking aspect, but the rest of her awfulness), and there can be no doubt that yes, people really do behave like that. Just not usually the heroines of books.

The somewhat skeevy-to-a-modern-reader relationship between Knightley and Emma is mitigated enormously by two things in this film: one, Knightley is played by Mark Strong. This in and of itself is sufficient to mitigate nearly any skeevy factor, because Mark Strong. However, he’s also only ten years older than Kate Beckinsale, which means when his Knightley held her as a 3 week old, he was also a child himself. This is a significant difference to the impression in the book that he’s twenty or twenty-five years her senior. If they’d met as adults and he was that much older, eh, okay, but watching her grow up from his own position of adulthood and still falling in love with her always struck me as igh. So that bit was good.

The supporting cast was very good, particularly Mr Wodehouse, who played his fussiness with a sweet charm that made him loveable, if exasperating. Really, it’s a perfectly fine film, but more than the P&P versions I’ve seen recently, it just felt like *so much* had to get left out that I found it a little disappointing.

Now I’ve got to re-watch Emma Thompson’s Emma, and I am informed by Reliable Sources that I’d better watch the Ciaran Hinds Persuasion. Which I’m not sure I’ve even read, so I should do that too. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

hegemony hedgehogagrimony on May 13th, 2013 08:12 pm (UTC)
Oooo. I will have to look up that Persuasion movie. I really liked the book.
Alix (Tersa): Hazel-Rah (tersa)tersa on May 13th, 2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
CIARAN HINDS. That makes me interested just on principle.

Did you see the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma? I'm wondering how it compares to the Beckinsale one, now.
The Black Rabbit: Headinlerah on May 13th, 2013 09:56 pm (UTC)
Emma Thompson did a version of Emma?
I wonder where I can get a hold of a copy of it!

I watch her S&S several times a year. Just love it, love her, love Alan Rickman....and will stop rambling now.

PS: I meant to hit the regular reply, not the Tersa reply. but that's ok. Hi Rabbit!

Edited at 2013-05-13 09:57 pm (UTC)
Alix (Tersa): Hazel-Rah (tersa)tersa on May 13th, 2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
Hi, Rah!
kitmizkit on May 14th, 2013 06:32 am (UTC)
It's the one starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Emma Thompson wrote (and directed?) it. :)
kitmizkit on May 14th, 2013 06:34 am (UTC)
I have confused people, clearly. I (perhaps oddly) think of Gwyneth's Emma as Emma Thompson's Emma, because Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay and won an Oscar for doing so. So yes! I've seen it! And now I have to re-watch it. :)
The Black Rabbit: Headinlerah on May 14th, 2013 04:29 pm (UTC)
I looked on IMDB, because it surprised me that I never noticed that Emma Thompson wrote and/or directed the 1996 (Paltrow) version of Emma. But, according to IMDB it was written (screenplay) and directed by Douglas McGrath. I couldn't find Thompson listed as one of the producers, either. IMDB is often wrong, of course, so now I'm not sure what's what.

I think what you're thinking of is Sense and Sensibility. Emma Thompson did indeed win an Oscar for writing that one. And that's the one I was referencing in my first reply. I watch S&S several times, every year.

Edited at 2013-05-14 04:32 pm (UTC)
kitmizkit on May 14th, 2013 10:42 pm (UTC)
Yes, apparently I was all confused. :)
Chrysoulachrysoula on May 13th, 2013 11:48 pm (UTC)
I haven't watched this version of Emma, I think. I liked both the Gwyneth Paltrow one and the Romola Garai one. Although I have to say, I also like _Emma_, the character, so. I wonder if it helped that my very first exposure to the story was Clueless.
kitmizkit on May 14th, 2013 06:35 am (UTC)
I've never seen Clueless. I ought to watch that too. In my quest to view All Things Austen, or whatever this is. :)
coraline73 on May 14th, 2013 01:49 pm (UTC)
Ooh, if you haven't read 'Persausion' I envy you - it's my favourite Austen, and I'd love to be able to read it for the first time again :-)

I really like the Sally Hawkins / Rupert Penry-Jones version.
kitmizkit on May 14th, 2013 01:51 pm (UTC)
It's the favorite of the friend who told me to read/watch it, too. This causes me to look forward to it enormously! Though it's possible I did read it in high school and just don't remember. I'll find out when I read it! :)